What does Ybrant Digital offer that other solutions in the space don’t?
It is indeed very difficult to distinguish the different companies in the digital space. A lot of them are doing great work in various niche markets. For better or for worse, Ybrant Digital distinguishes itself through the truly broad digital media spectrum it offers.
We were one of the early companies in display banners, have grown significantly in Facebook advertising, are invested heavily in mobile advertising, looking at the video arena and have acquired several media assets as well, we do all of that also thanks to our advanced technology background and invitation in the space.
So while we may find it difficult to differentiate ourselves in specific verticals, we are one of the most diversified digital media players out there. We are in a unique position to offer a true multi-platform approach to advertisers and brands. Another key factor in our ability to execute results is due to our great teams of developers in India, and in other places around the world.
You work with both advertisers & publishers, is it evenly split or would you consider Ybrant more buy-side or sell-side?
Ybrant has traditionally placed more of its focus on the advertiser side, also thanks to our strong relationship with Media Agencies in the markets where we have people on ground, but as can be seen by our recent acquisitions, the media side is also crucial for our strategic growth.
At the end of the day it is a never ending balancing act, and we invest a lot of resources, operationally and technologically, to reach the necessary optimisation that both sides justly demand.
We invest a lot of resources to better understand the end-users and their behaviour, as we believe that perfecting it will benefit both supply and demand.
You’ve worked for Ybrant Digital for almost five years, how have you seen the business model change over that time?
Ybrant was founded as an electronic greeting cards website at the beginning of the century. During those early years, one of the most important developments to affect the industry was the emergence of ad exchanges. I joined the Ybrant Digital leadership team in 2008 after selling Oridian to Ybrant Digital. What we brought with us, and have grown since then, is that worldwide exchange activity which helped us reach, among other things, the global scale that we have today. It also allowed us the buying power needed to expand into important markets at the right time.
Other factors that became dominant over time were social advertising (where our early investment paid off) and the rapidly growing mobile advertising sector. Even though those new platforms are gaining traction and visibility, “traditional” network activity is still very much alive and functions as the underlying activity that helps our growth. It provided us with experience and confidence to explore and succeed in those new platforms from the moment of onset.
How does Ybrant enable and facilitate more sophisticated applications of data and tech in real time buying (not just bidding)?
Real time bidding is a fascinating development of recent years. However, it is far from being utilised in a way that truly exploits its potential. What we see, for the most part, is that publishers are getting the better end of that deal, but that can attributed to the still immature buying tools. It also happens because of a notion that an RTB buy is a better or safer way to run branding campaigns.
We are still very much exploring user data technologies on the one hand, and smarter media segmentation on the other. Both bring value from different perspectives, and have their own implications on the optimisation possibilities of a campaign.
Ybrant is currently active in 19 countries, does this pose a problem with different rates of technology adoption? With different privacy laws?
Yes. It is a problem, or may I better say, a true challenge and not only because of technology adoption or privacy laws. There is an innate challenge to running a global organisation, as each country and market has its unique characteristics. Unifying a message or regulating work procedures over many diverse environments are also issues that require much attention. We have to constantly remind ourselves that what works splendidly in one market, doesn’t necessarily work in the other.
Ybrant has recently acquired PriceGrabber, Lowermybills and Classesuse and acquired Lycos a couple years ago, do you see similar acquisitions in the near future?
Clearly the Ybrant Digital strategy is strength through diversification. We’re constantly expanding our media assets portfolio and position ourselves as a 360-degree digital media house. Both Lycos and the Experian Interactive assets are big acquisitions; ones that require a lot of effort in the integration process. So while I definitely see us continuing with the same strategic direction, I believe it is likely to take a bit more time until we make our next move in that space.
How do you see the future landscape for Ybrant? Where do you envision the company in one year? Five years?
We are already established as one of the world’s largest digital marketing companies, and our dominance in that space is only going to grow. In the short term, we will continue integrating all our disparate pieces, culminating our vertical solutions into a unified message and interface.
In the longer run, we will keep on pushing further our ability to be a strong gateway for advertisers into the world of digital media. We will further perfect our true cross-platform capabilities, converging multiple areas of business into a unified solution.
Do you think the space is on track to having all media programmatically buying enabled?
Yes, I do. I think technology-based buying platforms will be enabled across the media space. However, that does not take away the crucial function of controlling the gateways. It does not replace the methodologies of running the campaigns. Most importantly, the platform in itself is not the only factor of an effective digital media campaign.
Successful campaigns are composed of many elements – from the brand, to the message, user incentive, creative elements, timing, and of course, the media and on-going optimisation. So while I do believe technologies will evolve to enable the space to become more automated, and we are of those who are investing heavily in that, that shift will also result in a need for much more sophisticated ways of planning and implementing advertising campaigns. We will be challenged to re-trace and re-envision the crucial steps leading from brands and products to users and back.ExchangeWire